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Archives for December 1999

World’s Bloodiest Century Draws To A Close

Happy New Year!The century that saw the deaths of over 150 million people in wars draws to a close tonight.

The century of great butchers – Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and others – exacted an horrific toll unmatched in the history of human life on this planet.

From the Boer War that raged on New Year’s Day 1900, the world was convulsed by “the war to end all wars” between 1914-18 and then the Hitlerian mayhem of World War 2 between 1939-45, followed in quick succession by the Korean and Vietnam wars, all these punctuated by countless minor and civil wars. The so-called “Cold War” and fear of nuclear annihilation dominated the second half of the century.

But the century ends in relative peace, although global conflicts have been replaced by regional disputes in Kosovo, East Timor and elsewhere. It is reported today that 65 conflicts rage in a third of the world’s 193 countries. The world is becoming increasingly “global”, both economically and politically, a trend hastened by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of communism in the old Soviet Union. A political hiatus appears to exist as the great winner of the the century, the United States of America, confronts the rise of economic rivals in China, Japan and Western Europe.

The century saw the development of electricity as a commonplace utility, the motor car wrought profound social change and the unfortunate development of sprawling suburbs. The development of air and space travel competed with computers and genetic engineering as evidence of man’s creative and inquisitive instinct. Ironically, as the Western world prepares to celebrate the beginning of a disputed new third millennium, the computer glitch known as Y2K hovers over the festivities, testament to both mankind’s ingenuity and fallibility.

Some see the century now ending as one of great advances in the spread of democracy. Australia is one year shy of celebrating its own century as a sovereign federation. Others point to the improvements in health and education, whilst yet others emphasise social changes such as those affecting the relationships between men and women.

The more pessimistic pinpoint environmental degradation as the great calamity of mankind since the Industrial Revolution. Oppression and denial of basic human rights are commonplace in many parts of the world.

But on this day of commercially hyped celebration and partying, it cannot be denied that most of us are captivated by the idea of the passage of time. Our need for historical and personal markers no doubt compels all of us to regard December 31st 1999 as a date significant, even if only briefly, in our lives.

The purists will argue the millennium has one more year to run, others believe it has already passed, whilst most of the non-Western world are entitled to dispute the very concept.

What we can be sure of is that the sun will rise as usual on the new morning and the new century. Around the world a population six times that which greeted the beginning of the 20th century will go about its daily routines, many in poverty, hunger, hardship and oppression.

The choices available to the world’s people and its assorted governments will remain as they were today. The clash of priorities, values and ideologies will continue. And, thus, so will Politics.

Poll Shows Support For Howard Slipping Amongst Young People

A new poll published today in The Australian shows that younger voters, the so-called “Generation X-ers” aged between 18 and 24, have deserted the Howard government in favour of the ALP.

The poll also shows that national support for the government is at 45% to the Opposition’s 43%, effectively putting the major parties at level-pegging.

Support for the ALP amongst 18-24 year olds is 45%, compared to 42% for the government, a shift of 9% in the past three months.

Polls such as this need to be treated with caution, but there does now appear to be a trend towards the ALP in a number of polls. This shift is supported by the results of this year’s state elections in Victoria and New South Wales.

Politics in 2000 will be dominated by the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax on July 1 and the accompanying personal income tax cuts. The Howard government is attempting to make a mark in social policy areas, whilst the Opposition is debating the merits of relying on an anti-GST backlash as compared to developing a comprehensive set of new policies for the election scheduled for 2001.

A swing of 1% against the government would cost it around 10 seats and deliver government to Kim Beazley. A 2% swing would cost it another 10 seats. It is generally agreed that the next election is there to be won or lost by either side.

TIME Magazine Wrong In Not Naming Churchill

Click here to purchase 5 Days In London

The choice of Einstein as TIME’s Person of the Century, whilst understandable, is an error of judgement to many students of twentieth century history.

The person who most clearly affected the way the Western world lives today was Winston Churchill.

The Weekly Standard, in its latest edition, presents a compelling case for Churchill, arguing against the choice of Roosevelt, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin or Mao.

A new book by John Lukas, “Five Days In London – May 1940”, available here from Amazon Books, argues that in the weeks after becoming Prime Minister Churchill prevailed upon the War Cabinet to continue the fight against Hitler and, in so doing, earned his place as the greatest democratic statesman of the century.

TIME Magazine Names Einstein Man Of The Century

TIME Magazine has named Albert Einstein as its Man Of The Century, according to an exclusive story in the Drudge Report.

Albert Einstein

The magazine has named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States between 1933 and 1945 as runner-up with Mahatma Gandhi.

According to Drudge, TIME says:

In a century that will be remembered foremost for its science and technology — in particular for our ability to understand and then harness the forces of the atom and universe — one person clearly stands out as both the greatest mind and paramount icon of our age: the kindly, absent-minded professor whose wild halo of hair, piercing eyes, engaging humanity and extraordinary brilliance made his face a symbol and his name a synonym for genius, Albert Einstein.

One Nation In Crisis

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party is in crisis following a week of turmoil. The current problems began with the sacking of Mrs. Heather Hill by One Nation’s Queensland Senator, Len Harris.

Senator Len Harris, One Nation (Qld)Mrs. Hill was originally elected to the Senate at the 1998 federal election, but lost the seat after the High Court ruled that she was ineligible because of her British citizenship.

Harris was appointed to fill the position earlier this year and has since employed Hill on his staff.

The sacking followed Hill’s criticisms of One Nation financial management and her support of 5 One Nation members of the Queensland Parliament who have sought to register a new party name. One Nation had been deregistered as a political party earlier this year.

It is believed that Pauline Hanson will take up the vacant position on Senator Harris’s staff when she returns from overseas.

Meanwhile, the neophyte party is wracked by internal dissension as David Ettridge, Daivd Oldfield and Hanson fight off the reformers.

French Prime Minister Calls For Limits To Globalisation

French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, has called for stronger international institutions and regulatory mechanisms to rein in the forces unleashed by globalisation.

Speaking in Tokyo, Jospin said that he was not opposed to globalisation, but attacked the “excessive power of multinationals”.

He decried the “intolerable inequalities” and the crushing of national identities created by the global economy.

McNamara Announces Retirement; Perilous By-Election In Benalla

Pat McNamara, former Victorian National Party leaderThe Victorian coalition parties face a perilous by-election in Benalla in the new year following the decision of Pat McNamara to retire from Parliament.

McNamara resigned today as leader of the National Party and was replaced by Peter Ryan. Ryan was elected unanimously. The MLA for Swan Hill, Barry Steggall, is his new deputy.

The expected by-election follows last weekend’s 10% swing to the ALP which delivered the Bracks government Burwood, the seat of former Premier Jeff Kennett.

McNamara won Benalla last September in a two-candidate contest, securing 57.41% of the vote.

There are 46 polling booths in Benalla, many of them small in numbers. Last September, McNamara won all but 3 – Eildon, Jamieson and Wandiligong – and these were won only narrowly by the ALP candidate, Denise Allen.

By contrast, at the 1996 election, McNamara secured 58.86% of the primary vote against 4 other candidates, including independent Bill Hill who has announced he will contest the forthcoming by-election. Hill won 15.36% of the primary vote in 1996.

Given the strong showing for independents in other rural seats in this year’s election, the National Party has good cause to be concerned about its capacity to retain Benalla, but Labor and independent candidates will have no illusions about their prospects in this traditional conservative electorate.

Howard Announces Federal Government Attack on Gambling

In a new foray into the social policy area, the Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced a federal government attack on problem gambling.

Following his opposition to safe heroin injecting rooms, particularly those announced by the new Victorian government, Howard has adopted a moral line on the spread of gambling, especially poker machines, and attacked State government reliance on gambling revenue.

His proposals have met with opposition from the States, with Tasmanian Premier, Jim Bacon, telling Howard not to meddle in areas of State responsibility.

Howard Announces National Approach To Problem Gambling

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced the formation of a Ministerial Council on Gambling.

The government is to adopt a recommendation of the Productivity Commission aimed at achieving a national approach to problem gambling.

Text of statement by Prime Minister John Howard on problem gambling.

Excessive gambling blights the lives of thousands of Australians and their families every year.

Problem gambling has become a major social concern.

The challenge for all governments in Australia is to find a response which balances the undoubted right of individual Australians to gamble if they wish with the ongoing responsibility of governments for overall community welfare.

The regulation of gambling has traditionally been a State responsibility. It is not our desire to change this. The Commonwealth, however, does have a leadership role in coordinating a national response to problem gambling.

Importantly also, the Commonwealth has a direct responsibility in relation to the use of the internet for gambling. I am particularly concerned about the effect of a rapid expansion of internet gambling and the Government will be investigating the feasibility and consequences of banning internet gambling. [Read more…]

Victorian Liberals Plot To Remove Poggioli and Howley

Victorian Liberals stunned by yesterday’s loss of the blue-ribbon seat of Burwood are planning a move against State Director Peter Poggioli and Party President Joy Howley.

A source close to the party hierarchy at 104 Exhibition Street has told that senior Liberals are furious over the result of the September 18 election, the Frankston East by-election, and now the Burwood by-election.

A senior member of the Liberal Party’s private polling team has already been dispatched to work for South Australian Premier, John Olsen, in an attempt to find a scapegoat for the recent poor performance of the party machine.

Many senior Liberals are appalled at the choice of Lana McLean over Helen Kroger in the Burwood preselection. Prominent senior Liberals such as former State President Ted Bailleau backed the ex-wife of former state president Michael Kroger, but McLean was a surprise winner at the preselection convention. McLean’s campaign never got off the ground due to a series of allegations about her personal affairs.